Great Smoky Mountains, Asheville Citizen Times
Two people were killed and several injured when a violent thunderstorm struck the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The storms struck Thursday evening at the west end of the 500,000-acre park near the Tennessee-North Carolina border, park spokeswoman Melissa Cobern said.
Most of the damage appeared to be in the popular Cades Cove area and in communities just outside the park boundaries.
A man on a motorcycle was killed as was a 41-year-old woman struck by a falling tree, and several others were injured, she said.
The storm, which struck around 6 p.m., toppled hundreds of trees in the park and other areas of eastern Tennessee.
Ralph Frazier, 50, of Buford, Ga., was killed while riding his motorcycle on Little River Road when he was struck on the head by a falling limb.
At a popular swimming hole near the Abrams Creek Campground, a large tree fell on four people. The Park Service said Rachael Burkhart, 41, of Corryton, Tenn., was killed.
A 7-year-old girl who was swimming in the creek was hit by the same tree and was unconscious when she was pulled from the water. The girl's father suffered broken bones and a collapsed lung, and her mother had less serious injuries. The Park Service said this morning their conditions were unknown.
At the Cades Cove Campground, someone suffered a heart attack, and a man suffered a back injury when he was struck by a tree on Cades Cove Loop Road. A third man was treated for an eye injury.
Cobern said hundreds of trees are down on roads between Metcalf Bottoms and the Abrams Creek areas. The Cades Cove Campground will be closed until at least Sunday evening for cleanup. Several other roads in the park also are closed.